Mokulele expands in isle market


POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2008

The terminal and counters left empty by the abrupt shutdown of Aloha Airlines in April will not be vacant for much longer.





Crowded skies

        Mokulele Airlines and Republic Airways are teaming up to offer new interisland service.


» Mokulele headquarters: Kona


» Republic Airways headquarters: Indianapolis


» Hawaii fares: $61-$159 online


» Hawaii routes: Nine round-trip flights a day from Honolulu to Lihue; five round-trip flights a day from Honolulu to Kona, with three one-stop flights between Kona and Lihue. Next year, nine daily flights are scheduled from Honolulu to Kahului, and five from Honolulu to Hilo.


» Hawaii employees: 400 as of early 2009


» Republic's employees: 4,400 total nationwide


» Online:


Sources: Mokulele Airlines and Republic Airways


Fares: $61-$159 online


Routes: Nine round-trip flights a day from Honolulu to Lihue; five round-trip flights a day from Honolulu to Kona, with three one-stop flights between Kona and Lihue.




A month from now, gates 49-52 at Honolulu Airport will be home to Mokulele Airlines, under a new partnership announced yesterday with Indianapolis-based carrier Republic Airways that will bring four more aircraft to the interisland market.

The fleet expansion comes along with a similar outlay by Hawaiian Airlines, which said earlier this year it will add four Boeing 717-200 jets to its fleet by the beginning of next year in an effort to fill capacity left by the departure of Aloha and ATA airlines this spring. Hawaiian debuted its first additional jet earlier this month.

Mokulele Airlines Chief Executive Bill Boyer said he will not slash prices like Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group's interisland carrier go! did when it entered the market in June 2006, when one-way fares ultimately tumbled to as little as $1. Boyer declined to give a fare structure, but seats available through the company's online booking system yesterday were listed for $61 to $159. The lowest fares for Hawaiian and go! were $64.

“;You won't see the fares that were unreasonable - those fares don't exist and they never should have existed,”; he said yesterday at a press conference announcing the deal which included Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert.

Republic subsidiary Shuttle America will gain a foothold in the Hawaii market for the price of about $150 million in aircraft, aircraft parts and a line of credit. Mokulele will operate and market interisland service of two Republic-owned Embraer 170 jets under the Mokulele name starting Nov. 19 with service from Honolulu to Kona and Lihue.

Service to Kahului and Hilo will be added in the first quarter of next year, along with two more of the Embraer aircraft, which have six first-class and 64 coach seats.

Republic owns most of its 233 aircraft, about half of which it flies under similar agreements with mainland carriers United Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, Midwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It is the largest Embraer fleet in the country, with 1,200 flights a day.

The aircraft that will be used in Hawaii operations are coming out of a long-term agreement with Denver-based Frontier Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in April, said Republic spokesman Warren Wilkinson.

“;There is a pretty big opportunity cost associated with those airplanes,”; said New York-based airline analyst Robert Mann said. “;Those are airplanes that are strongly in demand, so they do command some hefty fees that translate into revenue.”;

Boyer established Mokulele in Hawaii in 2006 to serve the Honolulu, Kona-Keahole and Lihue markets. The company currently operates six nine-seat Cessna 208B Grand Caravans, as well as one Cessna Grand Caravan cargo freighter, with another expected to enter service in 45 days.

;[Preview] New Interisland Airline Introduced

Republic Airways has just signed with Mokulele Airlines and will offer interisland flight starting November 19th.


Watch ]





Mokulele operates three of the jets under the go!Express name, although Mokulele owns the jets. Boyer declined to comment on whether that agreement would continue.

“;Jonathan's partnership with us is for the Express for the interislands that they can't operate,”; he said of Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein. “;Go! can only handle so many people with 50-seat aircraft. We are a great complement.”;

Ornstein said in an interview yesterday that he was surprised and disappointed by Boyer's partnership with Republic.

“;We booked his passengers, and we did everything as a good partner and he has developed a really good franchise with our brand name,”; Ornstein said. “;We have funded his operation, and he owes us a significant amount of money and we hope that he will pay his bills. It is too early to tell how this affects our relationship.”;

Mesa operates five go! 50-seat CRJ-200 aircraft in Hawaii, with the fifth used as a spare.

Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner said the airline will work to keep its fares competitive.

Superferry official Terry O'Halloran did not return requests for comment.

Charles Willis, owner of Island Air's parent company, also did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.